Hugo Pool (1997)

If you are looking for a VHS or DVD copy of the film contact me.
| Formats | Pictures | Quotes | Summary | My Review


Character Actor
Henry Dugay Malcolm McDowell
Hugo Dugay Alyssa Milano
Minerva Dugay Cathy Moriarty
Pool Supply Man Mark Boone Jr.
Hitchhiker Sean Penn
Franz Mazur Robert Downey Jr.
Floyd Gaylen Patrick Dempsey
Andy the Orderly Sean Glenn
Old Man Bert Remsen
Father Kevin Dornan
Kid Michael Mazzola
Chick Chicalini Richard Lewis
Irwin Chuck Barris
Lifeguard Jim Shield
Drowning Woman Ann Magnuson

Written and directed by Robert Downey Sr.


The DVD in the UK has been retitled "Pool Girl."


Movie poster

Malcolm and Alyssa / Malcolm and Sean

The whole dysfunctional family reunites

Malcolm being interviewed at the Sundance festival in early 1997


"The ring dang do. That is quite an oddball of stuff, but I wasn't allowed to use any of the good stuff because they are showing the films. Actually I love Hugo Pool, I like all those film bits. It's funny how the bastard children get away." - Malcolm in NY 5/23/02


    The film starts with multiple calls to Hugo Dugay's answering machine, for a pool cleaning company she runs, which she ignores while trying to sleep. Then there is an unnecessary shower scene with brief nudity (maybe it's to keep the guys awake). The first character up is Henry, he is a recovering drug addict and her father. He is getting over an addiction to something called "Ring Dang Do", presumably like heroin. This is a role he plays like no previous role and hopefully won't play again - speaking with a Brooklyn type accent. It is like across between Bugs Bunny and a movie gangster. His whole role in the film is to drive a tanker truck to steal water from a river and fill a gangsters' pool, played by the eternally annoying Richard Lewis. He also wants to prove himself to his daughter after his failings as an addict.
      Cathy Moriarity plays Hugo's mom and she is divorced from Malcolm, again we presume because of the drugs. She's an addict in her own right, her monkey is gambling. She owes her bookie $750 and it's either sleep with him or pay the cash, so she turns to Hugo for the cash. Hugo agrees to give her the money if she will work for her for the day.
     So the stage is set for the dysfunctional family. They are all back together again, so to speak. That's how the story goes. They travel from house to house doing the pools and meeting all the weirdoes. One such weirdo is played by Robert Downey Jr., son of the director and he plays a director! A crazy foreign director, and it looks like they pulled him out of rehab so he could play this role, he looks terrible and his character is so over the top that he is just ridiculous and boring. He also owes Hugo for five years (how realistic, like anyone would still work for someone who owed them that much) worth of pool service and he to agrees to work for her to repay some of his debt.
     Then it's off to a young man who is suffering from Lou Gehrig's disease and is a genius. He is also a paraplegic confined to a wheelchair. Somehow he knows Hugo's mom plays the ponies and gives her a tip on that day's race. He wants to bet too, so he forces them to take him to the track as well.
      Hopefully you can see how the story is going...nowhere. The really bizarre part of the movie is an unknown role played by Sean Penn, who seems to be playing Perry Farrel of Jane's Addiction fame. Sean is sleeping in the tanker that Malcolm is supposed to drive. Sean has these special blue suede type shoes that Malcolm says about, "Those shoes are exquisite." So for the rest of the film Malcolm only talks about two things, the Ring Dang Do and Sean's shoes. He wants those shoes more than anything
        Instead of kicking Sean out of the truck, he rides with him to the river, talking about his shoes most of the way. Sean reveals that they are custom made and registered, there are only 5 pairs like them in the world. Who cares?
 The film goes on at a snails pace with all these two dimensional uninteresting characters. Instead of being a wonderfully bizarre film, it turns out being bizarre for the sake of being bizarre. You can't set out to make a cult film, this is the only thing I can figure they were trying for.
      So I won't bore you with the rest of the tedious plot, or bog forbid, spoil the ending for you...BUT I will tell you about the best scene in the movie and one of the GREATEST scenes of Malcolm's illustrious career.
     On the way back from the river Malcolm starts craving the forbidden Ring Dang Do. He pulls the truck over and takes a bag out with him and precedes to sit down under a nearby tree. Oh boy, we think he's cracked and is going to shoot up, but that's not the case. What he does totally blew my mind and made the whole film worth watching. He pulls out of the bag a Malcolm puppet!! It's wearing the same clothes as he wears in the movie a black jacket and blue Hawaiian type shirt and even has the trademark white spiky hair!!!  It is amazing and it I would trade anything I had for it. He does an amazingly bizarre routine with the puppet doing both voices and at the end he gives the puppet the injection and it dies. Then he is able to go back to the truck.  He kills the puppet instead of himself.  Sean is watching and sums it up, "So the puppet is really a metaphor for you, how beautiful. "  And it is.

My Review

    Back in mid September 1997 I saw a listing for the premiere of "Hugo Pool" on The Movie Channel. Of course, Malcolm's name wasn't listed, but I knew he was in it. I didn't question it, I just figured it was another made for cable production. Three months later, the same film was in limited release in movie theaters across the USA.  My foreign droogs all have wondered how it came to be that I have seen this film before it was released. So there is your explanation and I'll give you my own take on this bizarre film.
"Hugo Pool" made it's premiere at the Sundance in January and other film festivals that year, then it's cable premiere, and last on to the theaters. Possibly a foreign release after that.  It's been a long year for this film. Don't ask me to explain their marketing strategy for the film. It baffles me. I would have gone to see it in the movies, if I didn't seen it already for free.      
Unlike you, I did not get to read the reviews on this page before I saw it and believe me I wish I did.  I didn't know what I had gotten into or what the setting and characters meant.  The title comes from Alyssa Milano's character. She owns a pool company and her name is Hugo, hence the company name is Hugo Pool. How clever. This is a company any one of us could own or run.  All she does is go from pool to pool pouring in chlorine and skimming leaves. Hard work. So the story behind the story is that every strange character has their own little story to tell. Maybe this could work, but it doesn't. I give one point for Malcolm and one point for the puppet.

Rating: 2/10

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